Dave Romney photo courtesy Nashville SC
As frustrating as Sporting Kansas City’s start to the season had been – just six points through six games – Peter Vermes’s team at least had the consolation prize of being undefeated at Chilidren’s Mercy Park.
No more. Nashville SC conceded in the first half, but responded with set-piece goals from Dave Romney and CJ Sapong to earn the rare 2-1 victory in one of the toughest places to visit in Major League Soccer.
Nashville was the stronger team for significant portions of the first half, but after a Hany Mukhtar penalty was saved – and an Alex Muyl header correctly ruled offside – it was the hosts who would open the scoring. Remi Walter ran onto a pullback cross near the top of the 18-yard area, and in the 25th minute gave Sporting KC a lead – and the Wiz rarely give up the lead once they get it in Children’s Mercy Park.
Frustrated to be down a goal at the half, the Boys in Gold didn’t take long to respond after the break. A set-piece routine saw winger Randall Leal given space to cross from the touchline, and SKC lost track of Romney in the box during the confusion. The Californian scored his second goal for the club, a thundering header that left no chance for Tim Melia to play the hero a second time.
Romney would play a key role in Nashville’s go-ahead goal, as well. His long throw-in led to a shot from midfielder Sean Davis that was blocked inside the box, but former SKC star CJ Sapong – now wearing the visitors’ colors – was waiting to poke it home from the top of the six-yard area. It was a lead Nashville wouldn’t relinquish, though there were chances for SKC.
Fullback Graham Zusi launched a bomb from well outside the penalty area, and while he just missed the bar, it took the home crowd and home broadcast crew a moment to notice that he hadn’t actually drawn the score level. In the 89th minute, winger Daniel Salloi beat the Nashville defense and keeper Joe Willis… but his shot grazed the outside of the far post, and was ultimately cleared. Moments before the final whistle blew, his counterpart on the opposite side, Johnny Russell, skinned a ball off the outside of his foot, and the half-volley went safely yards wide.
In a game where Nashville was often dominant, an early inability to capitalize on the dominance was ultimately irrelevant, and the Boys in Gold gained their 10th point in six matches, all of them on the road, including in some of the toughest venues in the league for visitors. If NSC had fallen off pace as a true MLS Cup contender in the slump following a win in Seattle, it’s safe to say that back-to-back victories in Central Ohio and Eastern Kansas have returned the Boys in Gold to that standing.
Nashville now travels to California on back-to-back weekends, heading to the Bay for a matchup with a disheveled San Jose Earthquakes side before a potential blockbuster against Los Angeles Galaxy in two weeks’ time. From there, nearly 2/3 of the remaining schedule will come at home – starting with GEODIS Park’s inaugural game May 1. As things stand today, Nashville is in sixth place in the Western Conference on 10 points (with a game in-hand on No. 3 Real Salt Lake).
If the team’s exceptional road form carries over to a brand-new home venue, the Western Conference may very well already be on notice.
- 17′ SKC Yellow card – 28 Cam Duke (foul)
- 25′ SKC GOAL – 54 Remi Walter (right foot, first time), assisted by 2 Ben Sweat (pullback cross from endline)
- 45’+1 Half time
- HT SKC Substitution – On 21 Felipe Hernández, off 28 Cam Duke
- 51′ NSH GOAL – 4 Dave Romney (header from inside six-yard box), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (right-footed cross) and Hany Mukhtar (free kick short pass)
- 52′ SKC Yellow card – 15 Roger Espinoza (time-wasting)
- 63′ SKC Yellow card – 21 Felipe Hernández (foul)
- 68′ NSH GOAL – 17 CJ Sapong (right-footed, from rebound), initial shot by 54 Sean Davis (from set piece)
- 76′ SKC Substitutions –
- On 27 Marinos Tzionis, off 15 Roger Espinoza
- On 19 Nikola Vujnovic, off 11 Khiry Shelton
- 77′ NSH Substitution – On 20 Aníbal Godoy, off 27 Brian Anunga
- 79′ NSH Yellow card – 23 Taylor Washington
- 84′ SKC Substitution – on 18 Logan Ndenbe, off 2 Ben Sweat
- 90’+1 NSH Substitutions –
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- On 9 Aké Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 90’+2 NSH Substitution – On 11 Ethan Zubak, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 90’+4 Full time